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Cryptocurrency

First Japanese company reveals bid to join Facebook's Libra

Online broker Monex sees 'huge possibilities' for the cryptocurrency

Facebook looks to launch the Libra digital currency next year.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Monex Group, one of Japan's leading online brokerages, said Friday it has applied to join the Libra Association, Facebook's high-profile cryptocurrency project, becoming the first company from that country to announce such interest.

Financial regulators worldwide have expressed grave concerns over the digital currency, putting into question whether the project will get off the ground. But Monex President Oki Matsumoto touted the opportunities offered by Libra, citing "considerably huge possibilities."

The initial review will be complete by the end of August, with a decision by the association coming at the end of September, Matsumoto said. The Japanese company bought domestic cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck in April 2018.

While presenting Monex's quarterly earnings Friday, Matsumoto reported that his group applied to Libra almost immediately after Facebook announced the concept on June 18.

"It can be used for cross-border sales of goods, donations to developing countries and remittances of funds by migrant workers to their home countries," he said.

Though Facebook will lead the Libra project, the cryptocurrency will be managed by the 28-member association, which includes high profile names like Visa and Uber Technologies.

"There is no operator more trustworthy" than the Libra Association, Matsumoto said.

Joining the consortium costs $10 million. It appears that Monex as the parent company wants a seat at the table, rather than the subsidiary Coincheck.

Monex reported earning a consolidated net profit of 849 million yen ($7.83 million) during the first quarter ended June, dropping 29% on the year due to the quiet domestic equity market. Yet Coincheck posted a pretax profit of 142 million yen, its first black ink since being acquired by Monex. An improved crypto market helped the exchange reverse a 259 million yen loss suffered in the year-earlier quarter.

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